Gov. Asa Hutchinson
has vetoed a bill restricting the law enforcement powers of one of his agencies, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Division
SB 496 by Sen. Scott Flippo
of Bull Shoals prohibited ABC agents
from enforcing laws related to gambling machines.
Some businesses, including private clubs, in his area and elsewhere have developed lucrative sidelines in running gambling machines, nominally prohibited by the state Constitution. (Charity bingo IS legal in private nonprofit settings.)
People fined by the ABC for operating the machines have put up a loud fuss, enough to get this legislation passed, though with only 53 votes in the House. That's two more than necessary to override a veto, if all could be mustered again for a vote when the legislature reconvenes to adjourn May 1, but against the governor's wishes it might be hard.
The veto happens to negatively affect the governor's nephew, Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson
. Though he disclaimed interest in this legislation, he works as a lawyer for a seller of these gambling devices and has a lawsuit pending in St. Francis Circuit Court trying to establish that the devices don't amount to gambling.
The veto letter: